In an interview by Charles Amirkhanian with Conlon Nancarrow at this Mexico City home in 1977, the composer reveals details of his compositions for one or more player pianos including the equipment needed to hand-punch the holes into the piano rolls. Reminiscences of the artists residing in Mexico City from the 1940s on, including Diego Rivera, are recounted. There are recordings of several "Studies for Player Piano" presented, and in one instance, a composition for traditional instruments (String Quartet). Nancarrow prepared a piano roll of the first movement of his String Quartet so that he could hear it. On this broadcast, this piano roll is presented followed by a recording of a performance of all three movements of the Quartet played by the Kronos Quartet. This program provides a fascinating look at an artist who discovered a unique medium in which to display his extraordinary compositional skills.
Pieces as they appear in order include: Study No 7, Study No 25, Study No 3a (1949), String Quartet (1942), Study No 12, Study No 35 (excerpt), Study No 27, Study No 21, Study No 40b, Piece for Tape, Study No 49, and Study No 20.
This program was first broadcast on April 30, 1987.
All Other Minds programs available, with additional print and photo materials, at http://www.radiOM.org.
November 15, 2006 Subject:
Nancarrow is one of my favorite composers. I even was into him before Charles did his now-famous radio programs on KPFA.
These are really great programs. Charles is a great interviewer. He really knows the field of contemporary experimental music. It really helps that he is a composer himself so he develops a terrific relationship with Mr. Nancarrow.
Top notch radio. I'm glad it is now preserved on this site and available to everyone.
I especially liked when Chas. asked N. if,
now that it was technically feasible, if
N wanted to learn the Synclavier.
N quite rightly said no, he was too old,
there were not enough years left to learn
a whole new compositional language.
His time was better spent punching holes in rolls.
The other great curmudgeon who sought to eliminate
performers from composing was Zappa.
I haven't heard Zappa's final experiments with the
Synclavier, but I've read that the learning curve
is steep and its best not for someone with a very limited time left on earth to spend his last days debugging programs.